Whether he's campaigning through memes or swanky fundraisers, Bloomberg is proof that money equals power in America.
After announcing his candidacy, former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg quickly shot to double digits in the polls.
This was partly thanks to the ferocity of his marketing campaign, which involved leveraging his billions not only to woo centrist Democrats—but also to recruit some of the most elusive and influential salesmen in the world: meme gurus.
Bloomberg has, thus far, successfully recruited some of the most successful meme accounts on Instagram. One of these accounts is @fuckjerry, who posted a screenshot of a message from Bloomberg on Instagram. "Hello Jerry. My granddaughter showed me this account. Your memes are very humorous. Can you post a meme that lets everyone know I'm the cool candidate?" Bloomberg wrote, offering to Venmo a billion dollars in exchange for a meme post. (It's unclear as to how much the Jerry group was actually paid).
These exchanges might seem lighthearted in nature, but make no mistake: This is marketing, plain and simple. According to many critics, it's also a threat to American democracy.
According to still others, it's proof that American democracy has long been broken, crafted to favor the rich under the guise of freedom for all.
Influencer Loopholes: How Bloomberg (and Brands) Get Away With Murder
Bloomberg's campaign comes nearly a year after Facebook sparked widespread ire when they announced that they would not be banning sponsored political content. According to Facebook's rules, influencers are requested to label their posts as "branded content" when they're paid to promote a candidate—but the Zuckerberg-led corporation has no way to actually make sure this happens.
"We're allowing US-based political candidates to work with creators to run this content, provided the political candidates are authorized and the creators disclose any paid partnerships through our branded content tools," a Facebook spokesperson told several news outlets, seemingly using the same canned response in emails to several websites including The Verge and Daily Mail. "Branded content is different from advertising, but in either case we believe it's important people know when they're seeing paid content on our platforms."
This is a valid method in theory, but it's not failsafe in that it completely relies on influencer transparency—not something that influencers are generally known for. Many Instagram users have gotten around the branded-content transparency initiative by creating private accounts that prevent their posts from being flagged.
Bloomberg has utilized these loopholes with mixed success. He is collaborating with the group Meme 2020, led by the chief executive officer of the aforementioned Jerry Media. In conjunction with Meme 2020, Bloomberg has reached meme pages including @MyTherapistSaid, @KaleSalad, and @WhitePeopleHumor, often sending DMs that seem to be attempting to paint him as a "cool candidate." Bloomberg's Twitter account has also successfully leveraged the Internet's love of surrealism to promote the presidential hopeful, posting surreal and occasionally critical tweets about the candidate. (At least Twitter is doing a bit more than Facebook: Last week, they banned 70 pro-Bloomberg amounts on the basis of "platform manipulation." These accounts, mostly created after Bloomberg announced his candidacy, were initially flagged for posting identical content).
So, before we smile and roll our eyes at the next pro-Bloomberg meme or tweet, we need to remember what these things are insidious and very well-funded marketing strategies.
Bloomberg isn't alone in this, of course. Across the board, brands are taking to TikTok, utilizing cutesy personas, engineering cheeky Twitter presences, and developing advanced and hyper-personalized marketing strategies. These tactics are guaranteed to capture our attention by feeding off our desire for connection, distraction, and the like. With social media, brands are able to infiltrate every aspect of our lives 24/7, disguising themselves as friendly forces despite their completely profit-based intentions.
The point is: We need to be suspicious of anything that is trying to sell us a product, no matter how cute or funny it seems. (Just remember: Capitalism is always, inherently, trying to screw you over).
A Very Online Grassroots Revolution Versus a Billionaire-Funded Ad Campaign
Bloomberg's approach stands in contrast to the organically viral, perpetually online nature of many of Bernie Sanders' supporters, who have steadily been defending their chosen candidate on all media platforms without a single cent of funding. Sanders' people-powered support has seen him skyrocket to the top of the polls, largely thanks to the grassroots passion that his message of populism, equality, and change inspires.
Of course, Sanders' sometimes vitriolic fanbase has been the topic of much contention and critique, and the much-maligned Bernie Bros are not guiltless (although the few loud, cruel ones are outliers).
If it does come down to Sanders versus Bloomberg in the primaries, this will be a battle between hollow, money-backed content and a genuine grassroots movement. It would be easy to say that love and solidarity will win, but in America, money tends to take the cake, so we all need to be vigilant.
Regardless, it's morally reprehensible that Mike Bloomberg is able to literally buy the support of Instagram influencers and the Democratic party. (It's also reprehensible that billionaires exist at all—but that's a topic for another time).
This is the only Mike Bloomberg related meme you need to see: https://t.co/7LgAR5IcFH— Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (@Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa)1581912574.0
If you're frustrated by Bloomberg and his terrible memes, tired of billionaires buying elections and screwing everyone else over under the pretense of freedom and you live in NYC, you can attend this march on Bloomberg's Upper East Side mansion on Saturday, February 5th.
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The sexist history of censoring nipples is senseless and due to change with better understanding of gender and trans identity.
Look closely at Jason Momoa's nipple. Do you find it offensive? Amber Heard wants to know.
Recently, the Aquaman actress called out Instagram's sexist censorship policies. When promoting her recent feature in Interview Magazine, Heard posted to Instagram a shot from the black and white photo shoot in which she is bare chested underneath a black blazer. After the photo received nearly 750k likes, Instagram took it down as a violation of their "community guidelines." In response, Heard criticized the policy by posting a picture of costar Jason Momoa in an identical pose and semi-nude state.
"In honor of IG's rigorous and equitable Community Guidelines against showing the Female nipple," she captioned, "and since mine enjoyed the brief privilege that's afforded to my male counterparts.. I decided to pay homage by replacing it with a picture that DID meet IG's strict nudity guidelines and such careful gender policies." She also took to her Instagram stories to ask viewers to vote "on which edit you prefer the most." She thanked Instagram and said, "here's to 2019!"
For what it's worth, Instagram's policy acknowledges that nudity can be artistic rather than lewd or pornagraphic; they just don't care. Their policy reads: "We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don't allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too."
Really, Heard harnessed the elegance of Jason Momoa's right nipple to add to a conversation about double standards and the social shaming of the female body that dates back to the early 19th century. Before then, in the 17th and 18th centuries, toplessness wasn't even taboo. In France and Britain (influenced by French culture), "the latest fashions were cut so low that applying nipple make-up or nipple rouge became a part of some women's beauty routine at the vanity table."
Portrait of Princess of Lamballe by Duplessis, 18th century, ALAMY
Then came the Victorian era, during which Queen Victoria imposed rigid restrictions on how females should express their sexuality—or, more specifically, that they shouldn't. As writer Sara Sheridan recounted for the BBC, "Victoria's childhood had been scarred by her domineering mother, the Duchess of Kent, who left the Queen with a lifelong horror of sexual impropriety."
So, thanks to one queen's childhood trauma, Instagram (along with most media outlets) bans female nipples but condones graphic images of slain hunted animals, pus-filled pimple popping, and "stomach-churning" medical accounts. And, of course, men's nipples.
Portrait of Nell Gwyn, Simon VerelstALAMY
But Heard's sly salute to 2019 also highlights that time is running out for out-dated double standards. Namely, with trans and non-binary individuals expressing themselves more freely and finally being represented in the media, society is becoming more aware that gender is a social construct, and gender identity exists on a spectrum. When Robyn Kanner writes about being a trans woman in media, she admits that, to a degree, she understands Instagram's problem and attempt at a solution: "Its algorithm attempts to track and delete nudity. If that doesn't work, it's up to an Instagram user to see and report it. That's when a 'global team' at Instagram decides if it should stay or go." But, she wrote, "In 2013, when I had just started estrogen, there was a strong possibility that Instagram would have let me upload a picture of my breasts…It's 2018, and my C-cup breasts are too scandalous for Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom's photo-sharing platform." She concludes, "Instagram has successfully shamed women into believing our nipples and breasts are cursed images. It should reconsider its policy. Pretending nipples aren't family-friendly in 2018 is a massively silly endeavor." In 2019, Instagram is now, more than ever, "failing its community" by shaming female nipples.
Twitter / @Robynkanner
But, with censorship and shame around the human nipple based solely on gender, what could more inclusive gender expression mean for the nipple?
Freedom, according to the Instagram account @genderless_nipples. Since 2016, the account has been publishing user-submitted close-ups of nipples, both male and female, with no indication of what gender (or agender) the body is. Instagram doesn't ban the images, because A) there's no way to tell which one is a female nipple and so a violation of their policy, B) there's nothing innately shameful or lewd about the body part, in the first place, and C) anyone who reports the account in attempt to have the pictures banned is close-minded and trapped in a Puritan mindset that clearly needs to be expanded by watching Fleabag or anything on HBO or any of Laura Dodsworth's celebrated photography projects of 100 penises and vaginas.
So while you freely gaze at the beauty of Jason Momoa's nipple, remember the long history of nipples that came before his and the arbitrary reason you're not allowed to gaze at so many more.
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Celebrities on Instagram—as in life, unfortunately—seem to get away with a hell of a lot of social-norm breaking and generally unusual behavior.
Jennifer Aniston is responsible for '90s-defining bad hair, redefining a "break" from a relationship, and the world record for accumulating the most Instagram followers in the fastest amount of time.
After creating her account, the 50-year-old actress gained 1 million followers within 5 hours and 16 minutes. (The previous record was held by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who lost the completely meaningless honor by just 29 minutes). The Friends actress has always been an enigma on social media, despite being America's sweetheart for much of her career. Her first post was a typical 50-year-old's photo, blurry and awkwardly angled for a group photo of all her Friends costars. The caption read, "And now we're Instagram FRIENDS too. HI INSTAGRAM." Mashable applauded the actress' new social media strategy: "Jennifer Aniston (or at least Aniston and the people working with her on social media) has pretty much nailed the Instagram game."
Certainly, with three posts and nearly 14 million followers, Aniston is on her way to becoming one of the most followed celebrities on Instagram. Aside from being named "the worst social media for mental health," Instagram does work like a game, in that one has to follow unspoken rules to succeed, you're in competition with and compared to every other user, and you hope to show some grace and intelligence in your decisions.
But celebrities on Instagram—as in life, unfortunately—seem to get away with a hell of a lot of social-norm breaking and generally unusual behavior. From posting bad selfies and oversharing to following 0 people but accumulating millions of followers, these are the strangest celebrity habits on Instagram.
Following 0 People
Aside from the fact that most high profile figures don't manage their own Instagram accounts, it's such a flex to follow no one while being one of the most followed people on the platform. See, for example, Taylor Swift: 122 million followers. Following: 0.
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